Thousands of men and women religious from all over the world fill St. Peter's Basilica every year to celebrate World Day for Consecrated Life. This year however, the pope's Mass will be much less crowded because of the pandemic.
A year ago the pope reminded consecrated men and women of their fundamental mission.
“Men and women religious, who live to imitate Jesus, are called to bring that same gaze into the world: a gaze of compassion, a gaze that goes in search of those far off; a gaze that does not condemn, but encourages, frees, consoles.”
It's that same gaze that Pope Francis shares with others who, like him, have said yes to the call to religious life.
Last September, for instance, he demonstrated that compassion when he invited this priest from Lebanon to join him at a General Audience to pray for victims of the port explosions in Beirut.
In November it was evident in his meeting with Fr. Pierluigi Maccalli, a missionary who had spent two years as a hostage in Niger.
Though social distancing makes these gestures of affection less common, the Mass this Feb. 2 will be a special opportunity to celebrate the shared vocation that holds the pope and all consecrated men and women together.
The liturgy will begin at 5:30 p.m., local time.